Thirty high risk kaumātua received their first Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at the Waikawa Marae Health and Wellbeing Day recently, making the marae the first in Te Tau Ihu region to administer the life-saving vaccine.
Marae Coordinator and one of the hui organisers, Renee Love (Te Atiawa, Ngāi Tahu), says kaupapa Māori health services provider, Te Piki Oranga organised an independent vaccinating team to travel to the marae to administer the vaccines.
“Te Piki Oranga Covid Response Manager Sarah Lee supported our Health and Wellbeing Day and she pulled an independent vaccinating team together in less than a week. And the fact that they could bring the Covid clinic to our people at the marae was a real game changer for us.”
She says a Ngāti Rārua-led Covid clinic was planned in Blenheim two days after the marae’s Health and Wellbeing Day on April 15 but as it would be difficult for Waikawa kaumātua to travel, the decision was made to take 30 doses of the vaccine to the marae.
“That has been amazing for us and now thirty of our most vulnerable kaumātua have had their first vaccine. They will receve their second dose three weeks after this and we hope to follow up with others soon after.”
Over 50 people gathered at Waikawa Marae to attend the Health and Wellbeing Day – Te Rā Hauora Waiora ki Waikawa, aimed at encouraging kaumātua to feel comfortable about reaching out to available hauora services in times of need.
Renee says many kaumātua still feel shy and uncomfortable about seeking health care in a timely fashion, so every opportunity was taken to enable them to have kanohi ki te kanohi meetings with health providers within the rohe.
“We want Waikawa Marae to be like it used to be – a welcoming pā that people feel comfortable coming to. We all need to work together to make sure everyone has the help they need to stay happy and healthy and a lot of that starts with building confidence, education and keeping whanau informed.”
In the lead-up to the health day, Renee and Waikawa Marae-based Whānau Ora Navigator, Marcia MacDonald (Te Ātiawa, Rangitane), networked with regional social services to provide a comprehensive oversight of the help available.
“We want our kaumātua to know they are included in this space and that they can pick up the phone at any time and ask for our help. And we want them to know about the kaupapa Māori health services that are out there for them,” says Renee.
“We focussed on fun, relaxed hui – an opportunity for kaumātua to not only catch up and enjoy kai but to also have a range of interactive opportunities like mirimiri, yoga and rongoā. We focussed on wellbeing rather than it just being about diabetes and blood tests. Those are important of course, but we wanted our kaumātua to walk out feeling like they had been pampered rather than poked and prodded.”
Funding from Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu in partnership with Pharmac enabled the marae to bring a number of health professionals together for the occasion including mirimiri and rongoā practitioners, a yoga instructor for breathing and wellness and a foot reflexologist. Sue Parish (Rangitane ki Wairau, Ngati Apa ki te Rā To, Ngāti Kuia,Ngāi Tahu), a Māori Specialist (Kaiatawhāi ), who supports whānau caring for whānau at Oranga Tamariki, was brought in to help with catering and creating healthy, fresh kai for those attending the hui.
“We want to encourage good eating habits – food that is easy for whanau to prepare and cook so having Sue with us on the day was a bonus.
“Te Pūtahitanga have been an enormous help to us and that’s made a big difference to us,” Renee says.
“Without their support, many of our dreams of the marae being a successful and thriving whānau ora space would not be possible. We cannot say enough about how supportive their staff and kaupapa have been in keeping us all inspired over the last couple of years.”